As a young elementary student, I was very intrigued by Abraham Lincoln and his family. I enjoyed reading books about him, and to this day, still feel a special interest in this particular president. Gayle Brandeis' book My Life With the Lincolns is about a girl, Wilhemina, who also feels a particular bond to the Lincolns. In fact, she thinks she is Lincoln's son, Willie, reincarnated. Her father runs Honest ABE's, a furniture store, and dresses up as Abe Lincoln from time to time. Wilhemina knows the fate of the Lincoln boys and Abe, and is especially worried about not not letting history repeat itself. In addition to this, My Life with the Lincolns takes place in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Mina becomes involved in the Civil Rights movement with her father, who sneaks off and lies to his wife about where he is going when he heads into Chicago. She is uninterested in giving blacks equal rights, while Mina's dad can't get this off his mind. However, I was often irritated by the methods he used to "help" the blacks, like firing their cleaning lady, claiming he was empowering her. Despite the fact that the cleaning lady was devastated and had no way to pay her bills, Mina's dad insisted he had actually helped the woman. The Vietnam angle is explored to some extent as the family's neighbor is called up to serve his country, leaving a worried wife and two sons who play war with Mina and her sister, Tabby.
This book had a lot going on, addressing some big issues in history. Somehow Brandeis was able to bring the various plots together, and has created an entertaining and informatiive book about the 1960s. I will have a fun time sharing this one with my older elementary students.